Dragons ride their luck to scrape into Cup fifth round

Leigh 16 Catalan Dragons 22
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The Independent Online

Catalan Dragons, Challenge Cup finalists four years ago, struggled into the fifth round of this season's competition, but only after a genuine scare from the Championship leaders.

Unbeaten in their last six Super League games, they trailed for half of this tie to a Leigh side playing with great commitment and panache. Only the full-time professionals' extra reserves of fitness and a fair measure of good fortune saw them edge home, but the crowd at Leigh Sports Village could hardly have asked for more.

Leigh were without their dual- registered Super League players, but they had something no other club could boast – an unbeaten record so far this season.

They got an even bigger boost, when, playing with tremendous enthusiasm, they took an early 10-point lead.

Propelled up-field by a 40/20 kick and a couple of penalties, they put the Dragons on the rack for the first five minutes, eventually breaking them down when they moved the ball to the left for Martyn Ridyard and Stuart Donlan to send over Adam Higson.

Five minutes later, prop Chris Hill, who was having an excellent first spell, slipped a wonderful one-handed pass to Donlan. Although his pass to John Duffy seemed to be knocked on, Leigh were allowed to play on for Tommy Goulden to score.

They would have been further ahead if Donlan had not passed into touch when his winger had gone missing. That was the Catalans' signal to start playing. They went straight to the other end and Sébastien Raguin's pass put Damien Blanch over.

Ridyard kicked a penalty for dissent, but the Catalans whittled the lead down to two points by half-time. Jean-Philippe Baile scored the try and, although Scott Dureau missed the conversion, he landed the penalty awarded for a foul on the try-scorer – the rare and fabled eight-point try.

The French side finally took the lead four minutes into the second half, although Cyril Stacul seemed to lose control and bounce the ball as he touched down.

The Catalans did not look comfortable until a lucky try 10 minutes from time, when Blanch's lost ball came off Donlan's body for Ian Henderson to score. Even then, Donlan's effort with three minutes left kept it close to the end.

Leigh: Donlan; Maden, Littler, Higson, McGilvray; Ridyard, Ellis; Hill, Duffy, Mills, Thornley, Goulden, Taylor. Substitutes used Hopkins, Nash, Govin, Pownall.

Catalan Dragons: Stacul; Blanch, Farrar, Baile, Vaccari; Bosc, Dureau; Ferriol, Pelissier, Simon, Casty, Raguin, Mounis. Substitutes used Henderson, Fakir, Baitieri, Touxagas.

Referee J Child (Batley).

*In last night's other game, Ben Bolger scored twice as Harlequins demolished Gateshead 70-0.